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Like many other business processes, vendor onboarding is subject to an organization’s internal controls, compliance with regulations imposed by various government agencies, demands for productivity and expectations of minimum levels of customer service. Well thought-out and effectively managed vendor onboarding programs deliver high quality in each of these areas. Vendor onboarding is key to every successful vendor management program. But it can be complex, tedious, and labor intensive, with medium- and large-size companies managing thousands of vendors and the very largest managing tens and even hundreds of thousands. Onboarding includes processes for obtaining correct, complete and verified vendor information and for entering that information into systems for accounting and purchasing. The onboarding processes can be both manual and automated. Internal Controls Subject to the organization’s internal controls, accounts payable is the last control point before cash leaves the company. Depending on your industry, 30%-70% of all the cash that comes into a company goes back out through accounts payable. Appropriate and effective controls for onboarding include segregation of duties to help protect against vendor fraud, payment fraud and employee fraud. Internal control policies for onboarding also help insure vendor, invoice and pricing legitimacy as well as payment accuracy and contract compliance. Payment accuracy protects against paying...

Customer service is an increasingly consequential aspect of accounts payable. And according to a Financial Operations Network survey, most AP departments — 88 percent — rated their own customer service as either good or excellent. Good news? Not so fast. Only one in five had ever asked their internal customers and just one in ten actually surveyed their suppliers for feedback on their service. In any area of consequence it is important to know how well your team is actually performing. Sure, self-assessment is important and common performance metrics will be a major indicator. But there’s more to look at, and asking your customers how you are doing provides a “reality check” you won’t get otherwise! Areas to Measure (You May Be Part Way There Already) Metrics are a tool to help you understand where you stand currently and identify issues you need to address. Don’t think of them as “one more thing” you ought to be doing, but as a handy utensil to make it easier for you to do what you want to get done. Metrics will tell you where you are currently and help you identify and prioritize issues; they are useful in goal setting, and can be used to measure...

How much does it cost your organization to answer a vendor invoice status inquiry? Don’t feel badly if you don’t have the answer at your fingertips. According to a recent survey by Financial Operations Networks and InvoiceInfo, only 1 out of 10 respondents track AP customer service metrics, making the cost to communicate with vendors the most overlooked AP activity metric. But these costs can really add up as vendors become more cash-flow sensitive. Interestingly, most cost-per-invoice calculations don’t get granular enough to break out the cost of these activities. How much is at stake? Just take payment status inquiries, for example. Statistics show vendor inquiries are made on 3% to 15% of the invoices a company receives and each inquiry takes 3 to 20 minutes to resolve. Of greater concern is that vendor communication activities are increasing. Today’s vendors email and call about invoice payment status with increasing frequency, putting additional strains on already scarce AP resources. Vendor questions can include “Have you received our invoice?” or “Has our invoice been approved?” or “Has our invoice been paid?” The good news is, InvoiceInfo has developed a simple, convenient, effective and easy-to-use tool to track AP customer service costs. The AP Vendor Communication Activity Analysis...

A best practice for accounts payable customer service is to transfer vendor invoice and payment inquiries to a supplier self-service portal where vendors can get the answers themselves — quickly and easily. According to a recent AP Customer Service Survey conducted by Financial Operations Networks and InvoiceInfo, respondents indicated that they receive inquiries from vendors and internal colleagues about payment and approval of invoices. But surprisingly, respondents said that the most important questions asked are questions about which invoices are covered on a payment and why an invoice was short paid. For those that chose “Other,” they stated that statement reconciliation and departments inquiring about what remains on a contract or blanket purchase order to spend are common questions. Questions like these and others can easily be answered with a vendor self-service portal, which helps to improve staff productivity and reduce cost. Who Is Using a Self-Service Option? According to the survey, of those participating, on average only 17.5% responded that they currently have a vendor self-service portal, while 82.5% do not. For participant companies with revenue greater than $1 billion, 46.9% of respondents have a portal, which is an increase of 16.9% from last year’s survey. So it appears that the larger...

InvoiceInfo invited readers to share their thoughts on who should be responsible for onboarding new vendors and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations. Following are some suggestions received: “I believe onboarding should be done at the purchasing level. The purchasing party always knows ahead what contracts are coming down the pipe. They know prior to even an invitation to bid goes out. I have been trying to get our purchasing department to have vendors sign a new W-9 at the time the contract is awarded, as part of their contract package they must review and sign — PRIOR to work commencing — I haven’t been that successful, but some buyers remember to do so.” —Jane Swanson, Orange County Transportation Authority   “Our process is a centralized vendor master with a dedicated staff member having ownership. This works extremely well for us as that person has the responsibility for onboarding and is accountable for accurately maintaining the database. They take pride in making sure all documents are correct and good. We have a Vendor onboarding packet that is sent to all new vendors with a note stating they will not be paid until they complete and return the documents. Our packet includes a W-9, minority...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text]By: Chris Doxey, Consultant Customer service is defined as the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services. Customer service can also be defined in terms of the relationship between the customer and the company or service provider. It is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high-quality service and assistance before, during and after the customer’s requirements are met. Accounts Payable has customers and provides customer service internally (within the company) and externally (to vendors). In AP, the customer service process is driven by questions related to the financial status of a transaction and the relationship between a vendor and the company that pays it. Many questions focus on payment status, issue of a credit or the status of a product shipment or return. Other questions might address issues about onboarding. Outstanding customer service leads to both customer satisfaction and loyalty. Poor customer service can cause significant damage to the company’s, the department’s and individual’s reputation. In today’s world of social media, one is able to communicate a personal experience with poor customer service immediately. As a best practice, outstanding...

By Carol Kassem, IRSCompliance, Inc. Onboarding a new vendor is typically a fairly easy process. You request the name and address of the vendor, Social Security Number (SSN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) and you are done, right? But not so quick! The way in which you request certain information about a vendor may not be compliant with IRS requirements. The most important part to the onboarding process is to correctly classify the vendor. Is this a U.S. person or a foreign person? What information do you need to request? How do you make that determination? IRS requires that you solicit specific documentation from any new vendor to properly confirm the identity of the person or entity to which you are going to make payments. Proper documentation includes IRS Forms W-9, W-8, or 8233. The Form that you solicit will be dependent on the initial information that you have about a vendor — name, U.S. or foreign address, as well as the type of payment that you will be making. Based on this information that you have, you must solicit the Form that is most appropriate for this new vendor. Given that the information that you have solicited will be used to issue Forms 1099...

Managing vendor relationships can be a challenge, especially as organizations make more and more demands on their vendors, such as improved pricing, terms and shipment quality. On the back office side, vendors are being asked to invoice using e-invoicing or EDI, to accept payment via ACH, EFT or credit card and to register and work with with third-parties in order to get paid. What can accounts payable do to help improve relationships with their vendors? [unordered_list style="circle"] Pay invoices accurately and on time per the agreed upon terms of the contract or purchase order. In real estate you often hear that the most important thing is location, location, location. In customer service, the key is communication, communication, communication. It is important for AP to communicate with vendors from the very beginning of the relationship and to set expectations upfront. One way to do this is by sending a welcome packet communicating what is required from the vendor to ensure that they get paid accurately and on time. Some items that could be included: Welcome letter and informational packet; vendor registration form; proper channels for resolving problems; who and where to send invoices and what information needs to be on the invoice; policies regarding...

Introduction Is responding to supplier calls and emails taking up valuable staff time?  Studies have shown that dealing with basic supplier inquiries, such as payment status and answering suppliers’ calls and emails can use up to as much as 24% of a staff member’s time. Answering and researching vendor calls and emails is often a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Whether vendors are calling to ask if an invoice has been received or where it is in the payment process, these calls and emails take staff away from other tasks. In addition, they disrupt what the staff member was doing when they were interrupted, which can cause errors to occur in invoice processing. When the caller is upset that an invoice has not been paid and is unpleasant, productivity and morale suffer. Suppliers can’t be faulted for wanting to know when they will be paid. And, it is usually AP’s job to provide customer service between their company and their suppliers, as well as playing an important role in managing the relationships with those suppliers. But, implementing technology to replace the calls and emails can save costs, headaches and increase productivity. This report will explain how a vendor self-service portal, sometimes called Interactive Web Response (IWR), can answer vendor inquiries...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column][vc_column_text] The cost to answer vendor and internal invoice inquiries can add up quickly. Whether your organization has a dedicated customer service staff or AP team members are balancing customer service duties with other tasks, there is often a big cost to this that is not always included in the calculation of cost per invoice.But, in reality, it can be an expensive cost of processing invoices. Costs include salaries, benefits, taxes, equipment, supplies and training for the customer service team, plus their manager’s time. When you have AP staffers balancing customer service with other tasks, workflow is interrupted and errors can be made. In addition, dealing with difficult vendors can be upsetting and stressful for the AP team member and wreak havoc in the department. By automating customer service via a self-service portal, as much as 80% of your inquiries can be handled online 24/7 and drastically reduce calls, emails, interruptions and productivity drain. If you want to make a case for a vendor self-service portal in your organization, metrics and benchmarking are vital tools to help you make your case.  You need to understand the metrics (where you are currently) and compare those metrics to what other companies...

Stop Calls and Emails, Enhance
Service and Increase Profit!

InvoiceInfo saves labor hours and cost by helping suppliers and internal staff easily and instantly get answers online to their invoice-payment questions.

If you are like many finance leaders today, you are being challenged to reduce costs more quickly. InvoiceInfo delivers real bottom-line results almost immediately, allowing you to deploy your customer service staff to focus on more productive, bottom-line oriented tasks.

Let us show you how InvoiceInfo's vendor self-service portal can help your organization eliminate invoice inquiry emails and calls while enhancing service to your accounts payable customers.

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Get Up and Running Quickly and Seamlessly

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are standalone applications that can be up and running in as little as two weeks, with little or no IT resources required.

The faster your online portal is up and running, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits. InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are dedicated solely to helping AP and procurement departments slash the time and expense of servicing vendors, while improving customer service for their suppliers.

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are simple solutions with big results. They are easy to implement and easy to use. Here’s how one customer described the process: “You give vendors a URL, provide instructions about what they need to know and tell them to go use it.” It really is that easy.

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Improve Productivity with a Self-Service Solution

For most organizations, deploying a technology solution is a significant investment, and like most investments, the decision point ultimately comes down to the expected return on that investment.

According to a recent benchmark study by The Accounts Payable Network, 60% of AP customer service calls are from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor issues actually make up even more of the AP call volume than the 60% identified. Many times when a vendor has an issue, the vendor contacts their buyer or purchasing representative, who in turn contacts AP. Even though the call comes from an internal customer, the question originated with the vendor.

Vendor calls affect productivity in your organization exponentially. When vendors call the requisitioner, they are affecting that person’s productivity. Your internal customer’s productivity shrinks when fielding the vendor’s call and again when making the follow up call to AP and getting back to the vendor. Finally, AP’s productivity suffers as a result of the internal customer’s call, the payment status research and the follow-up communication.

With a minimal investment of IT time and talent, you can start reducing customer service calls and expense in a matter of weeks. In addition, you improve vendor relations since you are giving your vendors what they want — answers to their questions immediately — a win-win for everyone involved!

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Easy and Economical Solution to Serve Vendors Around the World

InvoiceInfo can help you provide best-in-class customer service to your vendors around the world at a fraction of the cost.

Many organizations today have offices and operations throughout the world and are dealing with many time zones, different languages, and in some cases multiple ERP systems. InvoiceInfo currently supports different languages and can easily work with multiple ERP systems in different locations.

The key to good customer service is to provide the information that the customer wants when they want it. Whether your customer is a vendor waiting for a payment or a colleague that needs information on payment status, they want their information right away. If your organization has vendors and offices in other countries, they can be challenging and expensive to serve. But, with InvoiceInfo, your international vendors and internal customers can access the information they need when they need it.

With InvoiceInfo, you won’t have to staff your customer service team with 24-hour coverage in multiple languages to provide high-quality customer service around the world.

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Enhance AP’s Role As a Strategic Partner

Learn how InvoiceInfo can help AP do more with less while continuously improving productivity and bottom-line results.

Many automation technologies such as scanning, workflow, e-invoicing, ACH, and electronic invoicing require significant investments of money, time and talent, making it difficult to get buy-in from upper management. Not InvoiceInfo!

If your goal for your AP department is to reduce costs quickly, call or email us today to learn more about how InvoiceInfo can help you achieve this goal through a quick, inexpensive and easy implementation of a vendor self-service portal.

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Enhance Vendor Relationships

InvoiceInfo helps suppliers’ AR departments with simple and convenient access to invoice payment status online at a cost savings for all involved.

It may seem that the organization paying the vendor should hold all the cards in the relationship. But sometimes the opposite is true. Past-due payments and customer service perceptions can harm supplier relationships and disrupt the supply chain.

Your vendors and vendor relationship managers are living in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, so when invoice information is required, it is needed quickly and expected to be of high quality. With InvoiceInfo, your suppliers get answers to invoice inquiries real time, 24/7 with no need to leave messages and wait for responses. Studies show that confidence in data increases when suppliers access invoice and payment information themselves.

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Give Procurement and Buyers the Tool They
Need to Respond to Vendors Quickly

Not only can InvoiceInfo be used by suppliers to learn the status of invoice payments, it can also be used internally within your organization.

In addition to reducing calls from vendors regarding invoice status, you can also reduce internal emails and calls from co-workers wanting to learn the status of invoice payment, and save time and effort and boost efficiency and productivity across the organization. Studies show that 40% of AP customer service calls are from internal customers. Many of these are from requisitioners who have received calls or emails from the supplier checking on payment status. These calls are often more expensive for the company because the internal staff member has taken the call or received an email from the supplier, contacted AP for the payment status and had to return the call or email the supplier.

By providing the vendor with a convenient and credible online option to get the answers it needs regarding payment status, you can eliminate multiple calls/emails between the vendor and the requisitioner saving time and money.

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Eliminate Difficult Vendor Calls and See
Productivity and Staff Morale Soar

Reduce invoice payment inquiries and “promote” your vendor service team to more satisfying and profit-producing tasks.

By sharply reducing inbound calls and emails regarding receipt and payment status that your AP staff must handle individually, your staff can focus their efforts on more productive, cost-saving activities, learn new tasks, feel more confident and boost their careers.

According to a recent American Express survey on customer service, more than one-third of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year. Of those who lost their temper, three in ten “hung up the phone.” Your staff will no longer have to deal with difficult collectors who can be upsetting and disruptive. Your staff will feel that their time and talents are being put to better use and will feel better about themselves, their jobs and their organization. Reducing these calls can be a real productivity and morale booster for your AP department!

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Simplify and Streamline Vendor Onboarding

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document and $220 in re-creation of a document.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your W-9’s, W-8’s and other registration documents completed online and instantly filed online for easy access when needed? With Vendor Self-Service Onboarding Module, VendorInfo, you can onboard your new vendors in one convenient location and eliminate paperwork and hassles.

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Verify the Accuracy of Vendor Information and Stay in Compliance with IRS and Treasury Department Regulations

Government regulators are increasing the complexity of regulations and penalties associated with vendor-related non-compliance.

Penalties for incorrect 1099’s have more than doubled in recent years. Over the last several years, OFAC has levied more than $1 billion in fines against American companies or subsidiaries that did business with restricted businesses, organizations and individuals on its SDN list. In addition to fining these companies, the Treasury Department posts the names of infringing organizations along with fines paid.

VendorInfo Onboarding Module verifies the accuracy of vendor information and helps protect your organization by avoiding embarrassing penalties and fines.

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